Oregon supreme court dismisses protest to antigay marriage initiative

BY admin

May 21 2004 11:00 PM ET

The Oregon supreme court on Thursday declined to reconsider its recent approval of an voter initiative to write into the state constitution that only the union of a man and woman "shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage."

The request was filed Wednesday by Roey Thorpe, executive director of the Basic Rights Oregon advocacy group. Thorpe argued that the summary did not explain that the measure would alter the equal-protection guarantee of the state constitution. The court rejected her request without comment.

The court's decision cleared the way for the Defense of Marriage Coalition, organized by the Oregon Family Council, and other sponsors to create an initiative to ban same-sex marriage. The groups will need at least 100,840 valid signatures by July 2 to qualify the measure for November's election. "We're off and running," said Tim Nashif, who works for the coalition.

Nashif said the coalition's campaign hinges on a fundamental disagreement over rights and the definition of marriage. "I have no right to tell them how to live their life and don't want to, but there is definitely a disagreement about what are civil rights, and this is one of them," he said. "They [gay and lesbians] would say it's a civil right, and we would say it's not, and we believe a majority of Oregonians agree with us."

If the proposal makes the ballot, the campaign is expected to be one of the most expensive this year. Gay rights activists estimate they will have to spend roughly $2 million to defeat the proposal.

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